Lil’bit of Turbo love in…

Seeing as I can’t swim – the bike has been getting all the attention. This week though – well – I thought doing two spin sessions, a virtual TT and a 50km virtual club ride was an excellent idea….

The two spin sessions – Monday and Thursday – went well – really enjoying them and loving the fact that I am getting my cycling legs back. These have become weekly staples in my week where everything else is a bit up in the air. I’ve even managed to tag along to some Zwift group rides too. More on this later.

But on Friday, sporting DOMS, I decided that doing a virtual club TT on Zwift was a wise idea. I love time trials. I love the feeling after putting the effort in. I love the single mindedness of the effort. I love the fact that its just you against the clock, it takes the pressure off thinking about what everyone else is doing. I had also forgotten JUST HOW HARD they are. In fact, I think turbo based TTs are actually harder. It also reminded me how rubbish I am at warming up before hand. It wasn’t even that long an effort! But a race mind set kicked in, in a way that it doesn’t if you are just training or riding (proving that as soon as it’s a ‘race’ mindset and effort changes). It still hurt! By the end I was wondering how the planned Saturday morning ride was going to go!

The weather on Saturday mooning, although cooler than last weekend, was almost nice enough to tempt me to sack off the virtual club ride with chat over discord so I could ride outside. I resisted though. I often work Saturdays and I miss group rides – I miss riding with people! So just before 10am this morning, set up with two water bottles, discord app up and running with headphones and sat on the turbo, so began 2 hours 13 minutes of staring at a screen and turning my legs. Longest turbo session to date and only manageable due to the virtual and distance company of knowing that six fellow club members and mates were doing exactly the same thing.

Major kudos to anyone doing longer sessions and the 24 hour challenges! The same times and distance is certainly easier outside – if only because my backside hurts less! I mean, I was happy to finish but seriously – roll on being able to go out on actual group rides!

So now I am sat here, Sunday morning, with a wee bit of a to do list and still tired legs. I was debating actually going for a run today and having a bit of a go at the IM virtual race as it’s a sprint distance this weekend however, I think I really just need to chill and stretch out! So yoga and stretch is penciled in for later on and I am going to potter through my To Do list and rest.

(And MAYBE run tomorrow….)

So Long Swim

A week ago as Friday, as suspected, was my last swim of the year for the foreseeable future. Anyone who reads my ramblings or happens to actually know me and STILL reads my ramblings, know that this is one of the hardest things I think I have had to give up – and clearly not through choice. I am missing it.

The closing of gyms and the temporary halt on training as we know it – was, I suppose, inevitable in light of recent events. I’m just going to have to suck it up and wait it out. It is what it is and in the greater scheme of things – it’s not the worst thing ever (although I am mighty glad I swam – I’m currently on 70km swam for the year). My bigger concern with the swimming is more that it really helps manage my stress levels and keeps me happy. I’ll just have to find some alternatives – although before anyone suggests it – running wont be the alternative to swim in terms of making me happy.

So what to instead? Well, I was debating getting some TRX but I’ve some resistance bands and some bits and pieces to keep me occupied, but I have noticed that I am paying more attention to the bike.

I swapped bikes on my turbo (no mean feat – it means messing with cassettes and wheels and shifting one bike from my bedroom to the garage and taking one back with me). My comfier summer bike is now on the turbo as opposed to my TT (and it’s not so great saddle). I can honestly say that the investment I made in a direct drive turbo several years ago is one I am now grateful for. At the time I wondered if I had done the right thing. Along with a subscription to Zwift – I should, I suppose, cycle more.

I could, and should, run – but with all my races cancelled or at least postponed until September at the earliest, I’m going to leave it a bit longer, focus on what S&C I can do at home and turbo it. Which reminds me, I need to speak to my PT about that.

So while we are on a lockdown of sorts, the bike will, no doubt, win out. I am already planning a trip north with a mate to take in the sights when we can. I would love to say that now have time to catch up on all the books I want to read and research I want to do but truth is, trying to sort out business and working 6 days a week, while trying to avoid catching this nasty virus is just tiring in itself.

So I am calling it quits for today – looking at screens for work, I’m off to ride my bike, read a bit and sleep.

For the working week to start again tomorrow.

 

Testing Testing….

As I am actually beginning to take my winter training a bit more serious, I thought I might as well do a couple of baseline tests. This was also triggered by a conversation with one of the coaches in the club as we were discussing doing a CSS (Critical Swim Speed) test set at the next swim session. I also decided I might as well do an FTP test on the bike too!

Swim Test….

CSS stands for Critical Swim Speed – it’s essentially the pace you can maintain for a continuous 1500m (or hour), but rather than do a full 1500m continuous swim or an hour time trial – you can work it out from a 400m TT and a 200TT (go check out Swim Smooth here). Most of my plans and races next year are longer than the 400m swim in sprint triathlons so for me, working on my CSS pace is a good aim – I’m not too worried about my shorter distance speed (although I won’t be ignoring speed sets). I cant even remember the last time I did a CSS set so Friday morning I set out on a mission to work mine out.

I had an idea before hand that my CSS pace should be somewhere around the 2min/100m mark. I used one of the club sets – braving the longer set. I did my warm up, including a bit of speed as well as a bit of pull. My 400m time was 7:46:06 – respectable considering my swimming has been hit or miss in the last year due to injury. My 200m time was 3:49:06. I was genuinely over the moon with this as my last sprint triathlon swim time was 7:32:00 and that was at my near peak swim fitness. When I got out of the pool and plugged the numbers into the CSS calculator on the Swim Smooth website – CSS pace – 1:59m/100m – BOOM! Sub 2 minutes! Not as great as it used to be but I am still happy with this as a starting point – I’m planning on swimming four times a week!

Cycling…

FTP – if you cycle regularly or have a turbo trainer, chances are you have heard of an FTP test – Functional Threshold Power – the power you can maintain/produce – over an hour. Quite similar in some respects to the CSS really in my eyes. I had a debate about this with my mate and how accurate my turbo would be in comparison to the Wattbikes at the gym. But considering I’m using my turbo for my training, I decided that I would just keep it to the turbo so it was all consistent. I signed back up to Zwift and this morning decided to have a go at the FTP shorter test. It’s a while since I’ve done that too!

Forty-five minutes of sweat and hurt. I followed the FTP shorter test on Zwift – the 20 minute section from which they take the average for your FTP averaged at 164 watts – Zwift take this and work out your average watts at 95% of that (which is similar to how the CSS worked out with me). 157 Watts was declared as my FTP score – with my weight this works out at 2.5W/Kg – which, according to Zwift is Fair to Moderate fitness (see here for details from Zwift on this – its quite interesting!).

So what does all this mean?

It means that my Zwift sessions will reflect my FTP – helping make my turbo training more efficient and hopefully less dull – as I’ll be focused on following a plan. It might not be particularly accurate or my real actual power output but its a starting point. In swimming, it means that when I’m working on my threshold and endurance, I’ve times to go off – such as 100s off 2.10.

it also gives me a nice data point to refer back to in a couple of months to check on my progress.

Fingers crossed the training will kick in and I’ll see some results!